When Monique gave birth to her first child, Abigail, she found herself on the receiving end of more advice than she could handle. Everyone presented her with their thoughts, their opinions and their words of wisdom about what life with a newborn would be like.
“Of course some of the advice I received after having Abigail was taken with a grain of salt, but there were other ‘words of wisdom’ that I look back on now that I have a toddler on my hands and our second child due any day now,” Monique says.
She says there are four pieces of advice she received that she thinks about regularly, and they came from Abigail’s grandparents, and especially her mother and father.
1. Avoid comparing yourself to other mothers
‘If ever you find yourself doubting your skills as a mother and worrying about your baby, consider how you’d feel if you didn’t have other mums and bubs to compare yourself to.’
With social media so prominent and mummy bloggers seemingly looking ‘perfect’ all the time it can detract from the fact that all mothers have their own unique set of skills and talents. Monique says she instead worked with other mothers so that there was a solid support foundation that allowed them all to be the best parent they could be.
“Whenever I feel insecure about how I’m raising Abigailor my role as a mother, I think of that advice,” she says. “It allows me to look at everything with a different perspective.”
2. If you think it’s hard for you, it’s also challenging for your bub
‘How hard it must be for our baby.’
“This was an unexpected and simple sentence from my husband,” Monique says.
She says he “slipped out with it” on a day when Abigail was being particularly challenging.
“When I stopped to think about it, I knew he was right. Just as we were struggling to understand what our baby needed and wanted at a given moment, so too was Abigail in trying to communicate her message. She couldn’t articulate her words, she was barely walking, she was solely reliant on us for her everything,” Monique says.
“It’s important to remember that when she is crying and screaming… She’s doing the best she can to get her message across, just as we are in trying to understand her.”
3. Live by example
‘Your children model themselves on your behaviour, so if you can be honest, loving, respectful and fair with one another this will be reflected in the actions and behaviours of your child.’
“When I think about the way I talk about my parents I am reminded fondly about how they raised me and my siblings,” Monique says, revealing that this particular piece of advice came from a distant relative.
She highlights that her parents, despite both working, were always there to teach them and show them new things. Her parents were supportive, without being smothering. “They also instilled in us an excellent work ethic because they took the time to explain and then demonstrate why they needed to work to earn a living,” Monique says.
She says she and her husband are mindful about the importance of communication in their marriage because “it helps to work through things”.
4. Trust your instincts
‘Forget about all those parenting books, you’ve got this.’
“Back when we were growing up, my parents didn’t have a ‘guide book’ to show them the way. They parented on faith and hope and I think we came out all right,” Monique says. “My father told me that no ‘baby book’ in the world can truly cover how you will need to look after your children.”
She says being encouraged to trust her instincts while raising Abigail has helped her develop a method for soothing her daughter, helping her daughter to go to sleep and even identifying the foods her daughter does and does not like.
“It’s been so important to developing a relationship with our child, and far more beneficial than any book,” she says.